An easy to use tool for the analysis of subcellular mRNA transcript colocalisation in smFISH data

Calum Bentley-Abbot*, Rhiannon Heslop, Chiara Pirillo, Praveena Chandrasegaran, Gail McConnell, Ed Roberts, Edward Hutchinson, Annette MacLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

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Single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridisation (smFISH) has become a valuable tool to investigate the mRNA expression of single cells. However, it requires a considerable amount of programming expertise to use currently available open-source analytical software packages to extract and analyse quantitative data about transcript expression. Here, we present FISHtoFigure, a new software tool developed specifically for the analysis of mRNA abundance and co-expression in QuPath-quantified, multi-labelled smFISH data. FISHtoFigure facilitates the automated spatial analysis of transcripts of interest, allowing users to analyse populations of cells positive for specific combinations of mRNA targets without the need for computational image analysis expertise. As a proof of concept and to demonstrate the capabilities of this new research tool, we have validated FISHtoFigure in multiple biological systems. We used FISHtoFigure to identify an upregulation in the expression of Cd4 by T-cells in the spleens of mice infected with influenza A virus, before analysing more complex data showing crosstalk between microglia and regulatory B-cells in the brains of mice infected with Trypanosoma brucei brucei. These analyses demonstrate the ease of analysing cell expression profiles using FISHtoFigure and the value of this new tool in the field of smFISH data analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8348
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2024


  • mRNA
  • single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridisation (smFISH)


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